Palestine: The Safe Birth Project

The Problem

Midwife helps a new mother with her baby - c. Jessica AldermanIsraeli-imposed restrictions on Palestinians' freedom of movement, coupled with intermittent military attacks, threaten the rights and well-being of Palestinian women, with particular consequences to women's reproductive health.

The Israeli military has destroyed or barricaded thousands of roads in the West Bank, making it difficult for Palestinian women who are in labor to reach hospitals.

Ambulances are regularly detained by soldiers at checkpoints. As a result, dozens of Palestinian women have been forced to give birth at Israeli military checkpoints, resulting in the deaths of 20 women and 36 infants.

There has been almost a fivefold increase in the number of pregnant women who received no prenatal care due to military restrictions on the movement of women and healthcare providers.

There has been a dramatic increase in births that take place in unsafe conditions or without a skilled health worker, increasing the danger to women during pregnancy and childbirth, and creating enormous psychological strain for women. 

 

The Solution

Midwives for Peace is a grassroots group of 24 Palestinian and Israeli midwives supported by MADRE.  The midwives have come together to act on their commitment to their profession and to peace.

They are working side by side to:

  • develop updated standards of midwifery practice;
  • create joint professional trainings and workshops for Palestinian and Israeli midwives;
  • and ensure that childbirth is a joyful happy, healthy occasion for every woman.

 

The Results

  • Maternal and infant mortality are reduced by "safe delivery kits" that MADRE has provided to midwives in the West Bank.
  • The health of mothers and newborns is improved as the midwives provide women with personalized healthcare counseling and postpartum health education on breastfeeding, hygiene, infant care, and family planning. 
  • Women’s access to family planning is expanded. A MADRE delivery of 15,000 condoms was distributed by midwives who offer workshops on preventing unwanted and high-risk pregnancies.
  • Despite the ongoing conflict, Palestinian and Israeli midwives are able to work cooperatively to share skills and midwifery techniques that save lives and improve maternal health.
  • Women have increased access to well-trained midwives in their communities, lowering the risk associated with the difficult trips to the hospitals through heavily barricaded checkpoints.